Mild cognitive impairment (MCI), also known as incipient dementia and isolated memory impairment, is a neurological disorder that occurs in older adults which involves cognitive impairments with minimal impairment in instrumental activities of daily living. MCI involves the onset and evolution of cognitive impairments beyond those expected based on the age and education of the individual, but which are not significant enough to interfere with their daily activities It may occur as a transitional stage between normal aging and dementia. The specific etiology of the disorder remains unclear, as well as its prevention and treatment.
Although MCI can present with a variety of symptoms, when memory loss is the predominant symptom it is termed “amnestic MCI” and is frequently seen as a prodromal stage ofAlzheimer’s disease. Studies suggest that these individuals tend to progress to probable Alzheimer’s disease at a rate of approximately 10% to 15% per year
When individuals have impairments in domains other than memory it is classified as non-amnestic single- or multiple-domain MCI and these individuals are believed to be more likely to convert to other dementias (e.g., dementia with Lewy bodies).
According to some experts, mild cognitive impairment (MCI) may be caused due to alteration in the brain triggered during early stages of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. However, exact causes of MCI are still unknown.
Risk factors of both dementia and MCI are considered to be the same. They are ageing, genetic (heredity) cause of Alzheimer’s or other dementia, and risk of cardiovascular disease.
The diagnosis of MCI requires considerable clinical judgement,[ and as such a comprehensive clinical assessment including clinical observation, neuroimaging, blood tests andneuropsychological testing are best in order to rule out an alternate diagnosis. MCI is diagnosed when there is:
- Evidence of memory impairment
- Preservation of general cognitive and functional abilities
- Absence of diagnosed dementia